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Author Topic: smugglers  (Read 2619 times)
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smeagol
Bane of Legates
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Spell Energy / Taint +9/-2
Gender: Male
Posts: 635


Hiding from Shadow


« on: August 10, 2006, 12:20:50 PM »

Smugglers ( By Wil Upchurch)


Origins

While smuggling has always existed along the roads and waterways of Eredane, it did not become a large part of the gnome culture on the Eren River until after the Sarcosans completed their invasion of the land. Although peace with the Dorns was not established until 853 SA, the southern parts of Eredane had been developing under Sarcosan rule for over 500 years prior. The Sarcosans recognized the peaceful nature of the gnome barge families that worked the river and left them relatively unscathed during their invasion, instead using them to transport supplies across the southern stretch of the continent.

As the Sarcosan occupation turned into permanent settlement, the gnomes settled into their new role as river transport for the Sarcosan settlers. Soon implements of war and troop supplies turned into crops, worked goods, and other cargo normal to a society with vibrant trade. The gnomes turned such trade into a good business and their entire society was enriched. Wherever there is trade and law, however, there are those who need to move things unseen, and more importantly untaxed, from one port to another. Thus the art and business of smuggling reached unknown heights during this transition period.

During the final war with the Shadow, the river transports were used to move supplies from southern Erenland to Erenhead, where the assembled elves, dwarves, and humans were preparing to make their final stand against the forces of Izrador and the Night Kings. The smuggling routes became especially important as the last defenders tried to find a miracle in their desperate final stand against the armies that marched toward Sharuun. Men, supplies, and magic were all transported via the river, which was choked with the blood of Eredane's defenders. The orcs did not like traveling by water, and their attitude made smuggling all the more easy until the Shadow conquered the goblin tribes of southern Erenland and bent them to his will. To this day the Night Kings primarily use bugbears and goblins for river patrols, as these races do not hold the same fear of the water that the northern orcs exhibit.

Now that the war is over for most of the continent and a century of the Night Kings' rule has changed the land in many significant ways, many of the smuggling operations along the Eren River have taken on a more desperate and rebellious edge. Smugglers are now beaten and executed for their crimes rather than being forced to pay a fine or thrown in jail for a few weeks. The import and export of illegal goods such as weapons, armor, written messages, and even people has become more dangerous than ever. Because of this, many of the smuggling families have sold their interests to thieves' guilds and collaborators, preferring to work in safety rather than be found smuggling something that could get them killed. Others, however, find it hard to change their larcenous ways, and would smuggle contraband no matter what form it took or who ruled the lands around them. A third group has taken up or continued to smuggle as a way to resist the oppressive regime of the Night Kings and in hopes that one day their lands will be free. These brave souls have developed many advanced methods to avoid revealing their cargo, and they work with the elves, the freeriders and shaleefs, and others who resist the shadow.

Organization

There is no single organization that controls the smuggling efforts along the Eren River and beyond. Rather, many operations ranging from single, family-owned barges to a network of spies and thieves in the major cities that abut the river work separately to maintain the flow of illegal goods across the continent. On occasion some of these organizations will work together. Many things motivate such alliances, from money to patriotism to revenge. Izrador's armies have caused an inordinate amount of pain and suffering in the past century, and there are many who will never forget the wrongs that have been committed.

One such group is a thieves guild in Alvedara that had its beginnings with a family of patriotic Erenlanders who were saddened and outraged to see their city, considered by many the finest achievement of Sarcosan culture in Eredane, razed by the armies of the Night King Jahzir. The fact that the Night King took residence in the once great Palace of Stars only served to further stir them to action. They formed the Alveres Company in the aftermath of the war and submitted themselves for consideration as troop and equipment carriers along the River Eren. Unknown to the oruk officer who oversaw operations in the city, the Alveres Company took its name from the words "Alvedaran resistance" and remained committed to aiding those who stood against the terrible armies that now lived in their homes.

The Alveres Company has grown into the largest legitimate trading organization on the continent and it owns several dozen barges and boats that travel constantly up and down the Eren River. They have thusfar kept their activities a secret even from the other smugglers who they know operate along the river, as well as those that make unauthorized crossings of the Sea of Pelluria under cover of darkness. The Alveres Company works clandestinely to aid these organizations as well as individuals that it knows are working against the Shadow. Because of its secretive nature, the company has had to establish a far-reaching network of trusted spies, which has inadvertently led to its becoming one of the most, if not the most, informed network of resistance fighters in the world. While they have yet to make good use of this great influx of information, should a serious challenge to the dark lord's reign ever take place the Alveres Company could be a deciding factor in the conflict.

Personalities

Allender Highwater

Allender Highwater is the head of the Alveres Company Trading House in Erenhead, where he keeps a close watch on the movements of troops from the Northlands across the Sea of Pelluria and down the Eren River. His position at the ports and distance away from the watchful eyes of Jahzir and his generals allows him much freedom to coordinate the spies of the Alveres Company, a task that he relishes. Ever since Allender was a small boy growing up on the outskirts of Alvedara he has been obsessed with information. Had he the right influences the boy would have made an excellent channeler, but his proximity to the armies of the Night King kept him from pursuing such a dangerous pastime.

What he did do, however, was spend his days watching the dark lord's troops. He was fascinated by the orcs and other creatures from the Northlands, and before he knew it he had accumulated a great deal of knowledge about their society, the army's unit structure, and other details that would have meant his death had anyone actually been concerned about a young boy. He became too brave, however, and one day he stopped an orc patrol to question them about something he had seen. The orcs took him into custody, and he was sentenced to die by their oruk commander. Before he could be executed, a spy from the Alveres Company whisked him from harm's way, exposing himself in the process. This act of sacrifice was not lost on the boy, now a teenager, who tracked down his savior's employers and offered to work in their service to repay the debt that he felt he owed.

Allender is now in control of the most robust information network in Eredane-he probably knows more about the armies, legates, and happenings than any single person in service to the dark lord, save perhaps the Night Kings themselves. His photographic memory means he never has to keep damning evidence nearby, and his keen intellect allows him to process as many different strands of information as he can bring in. Allender has been getting bolder again in recent years, and has begun to employ groups of resistance fighters to verify or act upon information that he has gained. The other members of the Alveres Company are not comfortable with this, but so far they have trusted in his ability to manage these operations without revealing his identity.
 
In Your Campaign

Smugglers of all kinds offer rich opportunities for interacting with the PCs, both as ideological allies as well as simply a means to an end. If the characters are operating in a region with regular smuggling routes they might set up a relationship with a certain individual or group to provide them services as they move through dangerous regions. The smugglers could hold their weapons, armor, and other illegal items while the characters pass a checkpoint or make their way through a city where such things are likely to be found. They can even transport such items to a rendezvous point so the characters can retrieve their items as soon as they are out of danger. (An example of this can be found in the "On the Run" adventure in the Midnight Campaign Setting.)

Individual PCs working as smugglers will cause no end of trouble to their fellow party members, although an entire group affiliated with a smuggling company can be the basis of a great campaign in the world of Midnight. Remember, though, that smugglers must often get right in the thick of things, and so characters must be skilled in diplomacy, intimidation, and subterfuge if they want to survive long under these conditions.
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